November 8, 2019
The latest from the folks across the street from the Capitol

From Paddi's Desk
by Paddi LeShane

Snooze-a-roo or what?

Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Tip O'Neill is most notably quoted as saying, " All politics is local," and that seemed to be true in CT on November 6th.

This week's edition of In the Loop is solely focused on the results of the municipal elections. We highlight who won, who lost and what it means, if anything, for the fall of 2020 when all 187 legislative seats are up for election in CT as well as our five congressional seats.

A couple of upsets in large cities and small towns are the topic of other columns, so I thought I'd take a quick look at what the results mean. First of all, turnout wasn't that large. This once again indicates that if there's not a presidential race on the ballot, for a large part of the voters, it's not as enticing. No buses of voters were arriving just in time to exercise their rights to register on Elections Day as they did two years ago, which caused a lot of anguish for the registrars of voters as well as citizens who wanted to vote on the spot.

It didn't appear that the absentee ballot "incident" in Bridgeport during the August primary had any widespread impact on Tuesday's outcomes or that it prevented voters who were not able to appear at the polling sites in person to cast their ballots for their local candidates. While a few towns took proactive steps by filing court cases prior to Election Night as a way to be sure everyone who wanted to vote and did vote was able to exercise their right could do so, the town clerks were all about the details. They were checking identification multiple times as they went through the process of approving applications for an absentee ballots, issuing absentee ballots and then accepting a completed absentee ballot once the voter expressed their preference. This further ensured the chain of command was solid and followed CT statutes.

As many news reports were quick to assess, these elections were much different than in 2017 when everyone was harping on the impact President Trump had on the victories earned by the Democratic Party in the state's legislature. This "blue wave" didn't seem to have that much of an impact on local control of cities or towns this cycle. Many think it's hard to draw any conclusion in those towns that flipped. Again, as it often said, "All politics is local."

There were high ranking Democrats that lost, and then there were entire Town Council slates that also switched. However, these flips were all related to a local concern, issue or personality as reported. While control might have changed in some towns, the overall "red vs. blue" map of CT seemed to stay pretty intact. The suburbs and rural towns were still red, while the big cities remained blue. Trump didn't appear to be the number one issue on the top of the voters' minds but rather the direction of the local schools, the assessment and taxations of real estate and in one town, did someone actually drive over someone's lawn or not? 
No, I'm not exaggerating!

So, what does this tell us about next fall when the legislature is up for their bi-annual job review? I contend again that all politics is local. Who's got the better candidate? What is the demographic makeup of that town and do they care about pocketbook issues? Are they looking for a greater good for the community/state as a whole? Will job creation and preservation matter and/or will public health, environmental and social justice issues drive greater percentages out to the polls? Will it be all about the two (maybe three now with former NYC Republican turned Democratic Mayor Michael Bloomberg, or maybe I will run for president, maybe I'll just talk about it) candidates for president?

I for one sure hope that CT voters can separate what's happening at the national level (which is important) from what Connecticut needs and focus on who is the best candidate for Connecticut to help CT move forward. Someone who can rebuild the state's economic infrastructure and offer again the quality of life that made us the envy of the nations.

It's safe to say that "it's a long way to Tipperary," (aka Nov. 2020) and time will only tell what the mindset will be of the CT voter come November 3rd, 2020.

Hot Races: Election 2019
By Chelsea Neelon

It's over folks! Election Day came and went, and your winners of the state's hottest races are listed below. Click here to see the full list of all winners in CT races for Mayor/First Selectman.

After the 2019 municipal elections:
-   49% of CT towns are held by Republicans (84)
- 47% of CT towns are held by Democrats (80)
3.5% of CT towns are held by Unaffiliated (6)
Secretary of the State Denise Merrill predicted that voter turnout would be around 30%, and the official voter turnout percentage was around 31%. For reference and comparison, turnout for congressional midterms last year were about 66% and on presidential years usually around 75%-80%.
A total of 17 town CEO seats were flipped, with nine towns flipping from Republican to Democrat and eight towns flipping from Democrat to Republican.

- Mayor Joe Ganim (D) vs. Marilyn Moore (D)
- WINNER: Joe Ganim (60%)
New Haven
- Mayor Toni Harp (D) vs. Justin Elicker (D)
- WINNER: Justin Elicker (71%)
- Mayor Mark Boughton (R) vs. Chris Setaro (D)
- WINNER: Mayor Mark Boughton (54%)

- Mayor Richard Dziekan (R) vs. Brian Copollo (D)
- WINNER: Richard Dziekan (51%)
East Haven
- Open Seat
- Big" Steve Tracy (R) vs. Joe Carfora (D)
- WINNER: Joe Carfora (53%)
- Flipped Seat
-  First Selectman Michael Tetreau (D) vs. Brenda Kupchick (R)
- WINNER: Brenda Kupchick (58%)
- Flipped Seat
- Open Seat
- Jill Oberlander (D) vs. Fred Camillo (R)
- WINNER: Fred Camillo

- Mayor Luke Bronin (D) vs.  J. Stan McCauley (D/R)
- WINNER: Luke Bronin (77%)
- Open Seat
Ben Florsheim (D) vs. Sebastian Guiliano (R)
- WINNER: Ben Florsheim (53%)
- Mayor Ben Blake (D) vs. Dan German (R)
- WINNER: Ben Blake (66%)
New London
- Mayor Michael Passero (D) vs. Martin "Marty" Olsen (R) vs. Frida Berrigan (G)
- WINNER: Mayor Michael Passero (57%)
- Mayor Harry Rilling (D/I) vs. Lisa Brinton (R) 
- WINNER: Harry Rilling (55%)
Rocky Hill
- Open Seat
- Bill O'Sullivan (D) vs. Lisa Marotta (R)
- WINNER: Lisa Marotta (54%)
- Flipped Seat
First Selectwoman Vicki Tesoro (D) vs. Michael Herbst (R)
- WINNER: First Selectwoman Vicki Tesoro (62%)

- Mayor Neil O'Leary (D) vs. Ray Work (R)
- WINNER: Mayor Neil O'Leary (69%)
West Haven
-  Mayor Nancy Rossi (D) vs. Michele Gregorio (R)
- WINNER: Mayor Nancy Rossi (60%)


Did You Know?
This Week in CT History
November 6, 1960
JFK's Last-Minute, Late-Night Rally in Waterbury

Senator John F. Kennedy of MA was in the final stretch of his rigorous campaign for President against Republican Richard Nixon. In the early morning of November 6, Kennedy's plane touched down in Stratford, CT, where a driver brought him to the Roger Smith Hotel in Waterbury in a torrential downpour.

To his amazement, Kennedy found a massive crowd of 40,000 rain-soaked citizens at his hotel waiting hours for the candidate's arrival. After a few polite greetings to the crowd, Kennedy remarked that he would be going inside to sleep, but the fired-up crowd met him with shouts of "No, Jack, no!" Kennedy then proceeded to deliver a rousing speech from the second floor balcony of his hotel. "My name is Kennedy and I have come to ask for your support," he began, inciting applause. "My debt to Connecticut is great, and I come here in the last 48 hours of this campaign to the greatest rally we have had in this entire campaign, right here in this city."

The Senator spoke for the better part of an hour before finishing at 4:00 am, after what some staffers later described as the greatest night of his campaign. Just a few days later, Kennedy would be elected President, carrying the state of Connecticut by a margin of over 90,000 votes.
In This Issue:

Roundup: Election Style
by Ryan Bingham

Looks like the blue wave of 2018 still has some legs as Democrat Denise Raap beat Republican Jonathan Torrant for First Selectman in Litchfield, CT.

Republican First Selectman Leo Paul chose not to seek re-election for a ninth term back in July. With that area of the state leaning red, as well as the legacy of the First Selectman's office being Republican for the last four decades, many thought the next First Selectman would keep the seat red. In the end, Raap beat Torrant 59%-41%. Selectman Anne C. Dranginis and Jeffrey Zullo also won by wide margins, beating their Republican counterparts. Rapp will be the first female First Selectman of Litchfield since former First Selectman Linda Bongiolatti who served from 1987-1991, as well as the first Democrat to serve in the seat since Bongiolatti.

The Litchfield First Selectman seat flipping from red to blue highlights changes in voter trends of the last few years. As touched upon by Mike Johnson's article, Fairfield County experienced a huge blue wave in 2018, but went back a bit more red this election cycle. The political tides are turning constantly in our ever-polarized society, and there's no real way to predict how the next election cycle will go.

Election Trends
Fairfield County's Blue Wave Shows Some Red Tide 
by Michael Johnson

In an area of the state that saw the biggest Democratic legislative swings in almost 100 years in 2018, Republicans were generally successful in maintaining and gaining ground this week in an area of the state expected to be "blue" during the presidential election cycle in 2020.

The most marquee example of this was seen in Fairfield, where current Republican State Representative Brenda Kupchick ousted four-term Democrat First Selectman Michael Tetreau. Kupchick, who won by about 2,750 votes, overwhelming defeated the incumbent who withstood past contested races.

Greenwich Republican State Representative Fred Camillo won his race for First Selectman of Greenwich in an open seat election, despite the same town elected its first Democratic State Senator since the 1920's only a year ago. Other noteworthy races where Dems gained large support in 2018 but Republicans won races this year were Danbury, Darien, and New Canaan. However, there was a big Dem takeover in Easton where Democratic challenger David Bindleglass defeated Wendy Bowditch in an open seat race in that election. Despite that upset, there was an unaffiliated candidate who received 9% of the vote and some in the town believed that may have contributed to the defeat of Bowditch. 

Easton also elected first time democratic State Rep. Anne Hughes in 2018, which now creates the first time Easton has had Democratic leaders in the state and municipal side in quite some time.

Upcoming Events

Senate Democrats 2020 Campaign Kick-Off Fundraiser
Wednesday, November 13
Red Rock Tavern
Hartford, CT

House Democrats Fundraiser
Wednesday, November 13
Polish National Home, 60 Charter Oak Ave
Hartford, CT

House Republicans Fundraiser
Monday, November 18
Officer's Club
Hartford, CT

State Representative Steve Stafstrom Fundraiser
Wednesday, November 20
Hub and Spoke, 300 Fairfield Ave
Bridgeport, CT

Senate Republicans Fundraiser
Wednesday, December 11
Zandri's Stillwood Inn
Wallingford, CT